Perspectives on Spiritual, Intellectual and Pastoral Issues: Host – Lowell Qualls

Archive for February, 2019

A Word So Powerful

A Word So Powerful
by Lowell Qualls – February 9, 2019

God’s presence can be dreadful when a person lacks confidence.
One day I experienced a feeling of condemnation and weariness.
I was low, my head was down and my hands were at my sides
I was brokenhearted, so aware of my guilt, and feeling unforgiveable.
Heavily-burdened, I was crushed beneath an overpowering weight
That was never meant for me to own or try to carry.

I knew God’s Word.  And from my past experiences I knew Him
To be so good, always inviting me to come expecting kindness and grace.
It is true – God invites us to come with our hands reaching, our hearts open,
But on this one occasion my mind betrayed me. I thought,
“He knows me too well.  Where is my ‘hiding place?’  I am defeated.
I’ve come too often, and for the same awful reason.”

But then I heard one beautiful word, and as it penetrated my heart
It softened my hardened soul and skillfully disarmed me.
The word was totally unexpected, and His Voice sounded eager!
The word was not a rebuke or a call for repentance;
Instead, the word I didn’t know I so desperately needed
Was remarkably tender as it left God’s lips. “Welcome!”

My Lord said, “WELCOME!  I AM so glad you came into My presence.
Today, let Me restore your soul, and renew your hope,
For ‘here’ with Me is better than ‘there’ alone.
Christ the Lord said on My behalf, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’
David knew that ancient truth and My Holy Spirit inspired Him to write,
‘Your loving-kindness, O God, is better than life … life anywhere else.’”

That day My Father greeted me with the word He knew I needed to hear.
That day He recognized the wounds left by lies, sin and condemnation.
That day I had come into His presence with my hands at my sides.
That day my Gracious King understood my hesitation and shame,
So as He lifted my face, looked me in the eye, and kissed me on the forehead
He smiled and whispered, “Welcome, My child. Please, please come again.”
(more…)

2/3/19: Dream to Destiny: The Palace Test (Part 2)

Every person has a destiny they alone can fulfill … and God wants everyone to fulfill that destiny.   If you know what your God-given PURPOSE is, what does God need to do to prepare you for that destiny?  

The answer to that question is that He must refine our CHARACTER.  He must develop in us the kind of character that will support our destinies.  So God will take us through character building tests so that we can fulfill our destiny and satisfy our purpose.

This truth is illustrated in the life of Joseph, the son of Jacob, and his story is found in Genesis 37 through 50.

What are the CHARACTER TESTS that we’ve talked about so far?   They are (1) Pride Test, (2) the Pit Test, and (3) the Palace Test.

Today I’m going the share with you the second half of The Palace Test.  The palatial home of Potiphar is where we find Joseph in Genesis 39.

2 The Lord was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did as he served in the home of his Egyptian master.  3 Potiphar noticed this and realized that the Lord was with Joseph, giving him success in everything he did. …  5 From the day Joseph was put in charge of his master’s household and property, the Lord began to bless Potiphar’s household for Joseph’s sake.

Last week we talked about the first two of four “keys to success” that we saw evident in the life of Joseph.  And, like Joseph, if we want to have success and fulfill our dreams and satisfy God’s design and purpose for our lives we must ….

KEYS TO SUCCESS, (1) The Presence of God in our lives, and (2) Obeying God (maintains His presence in our lives.  Each key builds on the other.  You can’t go to the second key without the first key, and you can’t get to the third key without the second.  Now for the third key.

3.  THE KEY TO OBEDIENCE IS FAITH!

If you truly believe something, you will DO it!  

Let me illustrate this way:  Faith is the reason farmers plant seeds in the spring.  A farmer believes a crop will grow from the seeds he plants.   Faith is not as mysterious as we make it out to be.  Think about it.  We practice faith EVERY DAY in small and large ways.  If you plan to drive a car today, when you get in you will turn the key.  And what is your expectation?

Here’s a good one.  I believe EVERY ONE of us here today has more faith in a hot water heater than we do IN God!   That’s right!  When we turn on the faucet, we expect our faith to be rewarded.  We expect HOT water!!  And we will WAIT at the faucet until our faith is rewarded.  We don’t go by our feelings!  (The water may feel COLD, but we believe the water will eventually get HOT!)

Many Christians turn on the faucet of prayer, and if it feels COLD at the start, they just turn it off.   And many Christians would obey God and live according to His will, but when they turn on obedience and don’t have the results they want, they just turn it off.

You see, obedience for a Christ-follower involves finding out what God desires and doing those things and not our own “thing.”  We have to obey God’s Word, even when it feels cold.  You and I can’t go by feelings.  Obedience requires faith.

If you and I would just turn on the obedience faucet and LEAVE IT ON, it’s going to get hotter and hotter … and MORE POWERFUL because God’s Word says that He rewards those who diligently seek Him!  He said that if we seek Him with all our hearts He will be found by us.

If, by FAITH, we turn on the faucet of OBEDIENCE, and we believe that obedience will lead us into the presence of God, we will be rewarded.

Look with me at Hebrews 11:1 and 6 (NLT):  Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. … And it is impossible to please God without faith.  Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.

There is a simple truth that children practice:   If they believe, they will obey.

Children are a great example of the link between faith and obedience.   Obedient kids love to please, and know there is a reward for behaving properly.

On the other hand …. Have you been around kids that are disobedient?  What do you think the problem is?  It’s quite simple:  they don’t believe there will be any consequences.  “Now Sweetie … stop that right now or you’re going to be in trouble, young man!”

Ha!  That child knows he’s not going to be in trouble because this parent hasn’t developed FAITH in the boy.  Instead, Sweetie’s unbelief is tied to the FACT that disobedience has NO consequences.

MY MOM AND DAD taught me to be obedient because they believed God’s Word.  They never used a literal rod to correct me.  They used the “rod of discipline.”  It took all kinds of forms.  

Proverbs 13:24 (NLT):  24  Those who spare the rod of discipline hate their children.  Those who love their children care enough to discipline them.

FOR SOME CHILDREN … the rod of discipline is “time out.”  For another, just a stronger word works.  For other children, taking away a privilege will do the trick.   

My mother believed that a SPANKING helps a child BELIEVE that there’s a consequence for their disobedience … and I believed her when she said, “Do not … whatever.”  Or “Do this …”

Any kind of discipline also needs to be complimented with REWARDS!  If a child is obedient, they should be rewarded.  You shouldn’t reward disobedience, nor should you ignore the fact that rewards are part of the equation.  If you’re just punishing bad behavior you’ve got parenting all wrong.

God has told us that if we trust Him, love Him, and obey Him, HE has a ton of rewards that He can’t wait to dole out.  Lovers love to give, and our God so loved the world that He gave His Son.  And there’s more rewards to come.

So far … the KEYS TO SUCCESS are: (1) The Presence of God in our lives, and (2) Obeying God maintains His presence in our lives, and the key to obeying God is FAITH … what God says is true!   Okay … So … what is the KEY to FAITH?

4.  THE KEY TO FAITH IS THE WORD OF GOD!

This may blow you away … but SUCCESSFUL LIVING is easy!  You will be successful if you live in the presence of God … you can live in His presence if you obey Him … you will obey Him if you have faith … and you will have faith if you are drinking in the Word of God.  Read it, study it, meditate upon it!

Listen to this:  ROMANS 10:14 & 17:  14 But how can they call on Him to save them unless they believe in Him?  And how can they believe in Him if they have never heard about Him? … 17 So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.

God’s Word will not return to Him “void” … WITHOUT ACCOMPLISHING IT’S PURPOSE.    His word is living and active, and sharper than any “two-edged sword!”  His Word is a lamp to our feet and a light unto our path.  IF His Word is hidden in our hearts, God’s Word will keep us from sinning.  Those are all promises from God that you can read in His Word.

It’s the Word, the Word, the Word.  Jesus said God’s Word would never pass away.  Heaven and earth may pass away, but not God’s Word!

The key to having faith is OBEYING the Word of God.  We’ve already touched on that!  The KEY to having FAITH is HEARING the Word of God!!

Have you noticed today, and every Sunday, that we take long drinks of the Word of God? I hope so!  Faith doesn’t come “by Pastor Q” or any other preacher … unless you want to have faith in a preacher and not God!

And the more of God’s Word you have in you, the more faith you will have in Him!   Why?  Because His Word is life and truth!

How much of the Word of God do you have in you?

Why the Bible always under attack!  If Satan convinces you that God is a liar, and that God doesn’t keep His promises, and that living without God’s Word will no bring death upon you … he’s got you.

When Jesus was being tempted by Satan in the wilderness, HE kept quoting the physical, written Word of God.  Satan tried to twist God’s Word to trick Jesus into sinning!  Cult leaders and propagators of false religions work very hard to convince people that God’s Word isn’t enough.  That why they bring “another revelation.”  

Both Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormons, and Mohamed, the founder of Islam, claimed they were visited by an angel of God and given a “new Word.”  It’s obvious both men never read in God’s Word, “… even if an angel comes to you with another Gospel, let him be cursed.” (Galatians 1:8 & 9!)  Or if they read it they didn’t care.  

Joseph had God’s Word written on his heart.  He knew what God expected of him.  So, if you want the blessing of God and the SUCCESSFUL fulfillment of your purpose, it will require (1) practicing the presence of God, (2) practicing obeying God, (3) practicing faith in God, and (4) knowing the Word of God.

That’s what Joseph began doing in Potiphar’s home, and you and I can do it in our life, too!

1/27/19 – Dream to Destiny: The Palace Test, Part 1

Every person has a dream from God, and every person has a destiny from God … a PURPOSE you alone can fulfill … and God wants you to fulfill that destiny.

But many people can not move into their destiny because of ONE word.  CHARACTER. Their character will not support their destiny.  And so God takes us through character building tests so that we can fulfill our destiny.

There are TEN (10) character tests that God used to help Joseph, the son of Jacob, fulfill his destiny.

Three weeks ago I began this series – From Dream to Destiny– and I’ll repeat what I’ve said every week:  If you want to have the book that I’m using to bring this teaching to you, go to Amazon.com or KINDLE, or you can GO to “Gateway Church’s” website and look in their bookstore for Pastor Robert Morris’ book – “From Dream to Destiny.”

This book has profoundly blessed and influenced my life, and I commend it to you.

So, it’s week THREE.  Let’s see if you’ve been paying attention. What was the first test that Joseph had to take to move from his dream or dreams to his destiny?  (Pride Test)  And the second?  (Pit Test)

This week is THE PALACE TEST.

Genesis 39:1-6  (The New King James):  1Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt.  And Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him down there.  The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.  And his master saw that the Lord waswith himand that the Lord made all he did to prosperin his hand.  So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him.  Then he made him overseer of his house, and all thathe had he put under his authority. So it was, from the time thathe had made him overseer of his house and all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had in the house and in the field.  Thus he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand, and he did not know what he had except for the bread which he ate.

Potiphar noticed something about Joseph.  He saw that the Lord was with Joseph, and because God was with him, EVERYTHING JOSEPH TOUCHED WAS MADE TO PROSPER. He put Joseph in charge of his business.  He became second-in-command in Potiphar’s house.

And whatever Joseph did, the LORD made it prosper!

I have a very simple question for you.  Would you like everything you do to prosper?  Would that be OKAY with you?

God wants you to succeed!  God wants to make you successful in your life, in your marriage, in your family, in your education, in your job, in your career, in your health, and in your finances!  God wants to prosper you so that you can help others to prosper.

For many people, as soon as they hear the word, “prosper,” they automatically think about MONEY.  Why?  Because our culture defines success with money, position and power.  But God wants to bless you so that you can be a BLESSING to others! The Bible says that God wants you to succeed.

Genesis 26:12-13 NLT:  12 When Isaac planted his crops that year, he harvested a hundred times more grain than he planted, for the Lord blessed him.

There are FOUR KEYS to living a successful life … and I believe God loves to take complex things and make them simple … doable … understandable and practical.  You might want to write these keys down.

  1. THE FIRST KEY TO SUCCESSIS THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD!

If God is with you, you’re going to be successful.  Why?  Because EVERYTHING God does is successful!  He’s NEVER failed at anything He’s done. So, if you’re with Him, in step with Him, and focused on Him, everything you do with prosper, too.  If God is with you, you can’t help but be blessed!

Question:  Would it be alright with you if, in your job, in your career, and in your family God was blessing you?

This is the first KEY.  The Presence of the Lord.  Joseph HAD the presence of the Lord in his life:

The Lord was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did as he served in the home of his Egyptian master. 

Potiphar was NOT a believer in God, but he was still able to put two and two together and come to the right conclusion.  He was able to recognize that God was WITH Joseph.

Question: Does ANYONE in your life who may be an unbeliever, recognize that God is with you?

And if you’re the boss or the leader of anything, do your employees or your team recognize that God is with you?

The phrase, “The Lord was with him” is found throughout the Bible.  And you’ll see that when God is with His people, everything they do succeeds!

Henry Blackaby, in his book,“Experiencing God,” he repeatedly says, “Find out what God is doing and join Him.”   I like that, because Henry is encouraging us to be WORKING WITH and FOR the Lord, and not necessarily asking God to bless what we’re doing.   DO YOU SEE THE DIFFERENCE?

The Lord was with Joseph!  AND GOD WAS WORKING THROUGH HIM.  Joseph was watching “God in action”in and through his life.

So … we see that the FIRST KEY TO SUCCESSis to have the PRESENCE OF THE LORD with you at ALL times.  NOT JUST SOME OF THE TIME.  So … what is the KEY to the PRESENCE OF THE LORD?

  1. THE KEY TO THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD is OBEDIENCE!

 2 Chronicles 17:3-4 (NLT):  The Lord was with Jehoshaphat because he followed the example of his father’s early years and did not worship the images of Baal.  He sought his father’s God and obeyed His commands instead of following the evil practices of the kingdom of Israel.

We don’t like the word “obedience” very much!  We just want OTHER PEOPLE to like it!! (HA!) But the KEY to experiencing God’s presence is obedience.  If we don’t obey God He can’t walk with us. He is holy and righteous. That means He’s perfect and always RIGHT.

1 Samuel 18:12 & 14 (NLT):  12 Saul was then afraid of David, for the Lord was with David and had turned away from Saul. …. 14 David continued to succeed in everything he did, for the Lord was with him.

 REMEMBER THIS:  God gives us a choice.  “If” “Then” statements are throughout the Bible.  God says you can choose to obey or not.  But remember this, God says … there will be blessings with one and a curse with the other.

Moses was speaking on behalf of God, after he came off Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments.  This is what the man of God said:

 Deuteronomy 10:12-13 and 11:26-28(NLT):  10:11 “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you?  He requires only that you fear the Lord your God, and live in a way that pleases Him, and love Him and serve Him with all your heart and soul.  13 And you must always obey the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good.”

11:26 “Look, today I am giving you the choice between a blessing and a curse!  27 You will be blessed if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today.  28 But you will be cursed if you reject the commands of the Lord your God and turn away from Him and worship gods you have not known before.”

Please … understand that God is not talking about your salvation here. Salvation is something you can’t earn, no matter how well you try to live by the Ten Commandments! Salvation is a gift of God’s grace through faith in the sacrificial blood of Jesus Christ!  What God is talking about here is about LIVING A BLESSED, SUCCESSFUL, PROSPEROUS LIFE in the here and now!

Jehoshaphat, David and Joseph walked in obedience. They showed their love for God by obeying Him with willing hearts.  And God blessed their lives!  Have you ever met someone who obviously has the presence of God ON them and IN them?

YOU CAN’T HELP BUT NOTICE.  Joseph was a person like that, and Potiphar noticed!

Here is my heart’s desire …   I want to live like that.  I want to live and move in God’s presence every day of my life.  AND I HOPE YOU SHARE MY DESIRE.   But we’ll never experience God’s blessings and God’s presence is we don’t obey Him.

In Genesis 4:16 the Bible says, “Then Cain went out from the presence of the Lord!”

If you know the story you know that Cain was disobedient … and disobedience will cause us to leave the presence of God.  It’s NOT as if God moves.  We choose to leave His presence when we don’t follow Him and His ways.

God never expects perfection!  You won’t get it right every time – maybe most of the time.  But you and I need to be like David.  When he disobeyed God and he was confronted with his sin, David REPENTED!!    David sang, “Cast me not away from Thy presence, O Lord.  Take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.”  He sang, “Create in me a clean heart, O Lord, and renew a right spirit within me!”

Okay, so if we want to PROSPER we must live and move in the PRESENCE of God … and if we want to live in His PRESENCE we must OBEY Him! Right?

Next week we’ll look at the last two KEYS to success …